Friday, March 16, 2007

Ethics and Blogging = Monkeys and Dishwashers?

What I love the most about the Internet is the speed with which it allows us to communicate. This speed means that even in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, most people can still find time to post jerkwad comments on a blog or two.

Which brings us to today. Or rather, last night, when I came across the anonymous comment left on the entry for March 14:

Ha, Jenn Thanasse is looking forward to working with the student body, I'm sure she is.

Upon reading it, my first instinct was to remove it immediately. I did not. And I will not. This is why.

Contiue reading this post.
Some of you may not know this, but it is the policy of The Lance not to run unsigned editorials. Most newspapers have similar policies. That, if anything, was behind my original inclination to remove the comment. However, this isn't a newspaper, it's a blog, and the rules of blogs are more fluid, simply because of how they operate.

At the moment, Blogger only leaves me three permissions for comments: from registered users [people with Blogger or Google accounts], members of the blog [only one member of this blog: me], or anyone. Since this is a "journalistic" blog, the goal is to extend the discussion to as many people as possible, so I have the comment permissions set to 'Anyone.'

As such, when you leave a comment here, you are given three options on how to sign it: with your Blogger/Google account, by using the 'Other' button, which posts your name and a link to your webpage, or the problematic 'Anonymous' option, which some people choose to use.

So if I eliminate the option of anonymous commenting, I eliminate commenting priveleges for pretty much everyone who reads this thing. Dig?

Some have said that the comment is sexist, and as it is The Lance's policy not to publish sexist material, the comment should be removed. And they're right, it is our policy to not publish sexist, racist or discriminatory material. But The Lance didn't publish that comment, the commenter did.

It sounds like I'm arguing semantics, but bear with me, Windsor. See, this whole project is open concept. It can be built upon by whoever chooses to contribute. I might provide the bulk of the content, but anyone can add to a post simply by clicking the comment button found at the bottom of this or any other entry.

An off topic example, but a worthy one: When I made my post on the old bar I used to go to back in Amherstburg, the son of the owner left a lengthy comment telling the same story from his perspective. He didn't need my permission to do it, he just clicked a button and went. And that is what this whole venture is supposed to be.

It just doesn't always work out like that. Some people will be jerks and say things they would never say without the protection of anonymity.

I also disagree with the claim that the comment is sexist. The insult in the comment has nothing to do with Thanasse's gender, you could swap in my name and the implication would be the same. It's certainly mean, and nasty, and the sputterings of some misguided jackoff with too much time on his or her hands, but I don't think you can say it's sexist.

I know you think I'm hiding behind principle and not taking into account the real feelings that are hurt by such comments, but that's another benefit of blogs and the internet as a whole: its immediacy. Hell yes I'm aware of the feelings being hurt. You know how? Because Jenn Thanasse is someone I consider a friend, and has been for a long time. We've shared many a conversation, played many a game of DreamPhone, hell she was at my Windsor send-off last September, on my personal request. So it pisses me off to see some prick who can't be grown enough to sign their own name leave a tasteless joke about my friend on this blog.

But I will tell you the same thing I told Jenn, when I spoke to her about all this earlier today: I believe too much in the freedoms this project is supposed to encompass. The goal of this project is to create feedback, a dialogue, with as many people who care to contribute as possible.

Jenn's a public figure now, and people are going to be mean and nasty. If some of you have a problem with someone being mean and nasty, there is nothing stopping you from clicking the same button that moron clicked last night, and leaving a comment voicing your opinion.

Am I shouting into the wind here, people?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

testing testing, let's see how quickly this comment gets removed or the Lance takes the time and effort to look for the IP address that generated the comment


11:32 PM

Blogger The Trail said...

If you're gonna fish, you need better bait,


11:47 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

so you take the time to do that but not for the poster making an offensive comment?

if you care so much about integrity you'll track the person using your forum to insult jenn not make it her business to do so. When the new editor comes don't be surprised if they don't keep your amateur quality blogging skills

9:30 AM

Blogger The Trail said...

I did take the time to do it for the earlier commenter. But an IP address was as useful in getting that person's name as yours has been in acquiring yours, Oh Mysterious One.

The beauty of the medium is that even should a new editor decide to remove me, I'm still free to keep doing this. zOMG!

And yet, with all your superiority, you have yet to sign a name.

Jordan Ferguson

1:30 PM

Anonymous Darmidy said...

I have an opinion, Mr. Ferguson. It's really funny how you can have your pants in such a knot over this comment about your friend Jenn, and yet you have the audacity to post a headline reading "Alberta Girls are Easy". If someone making a sexist comment about a friend of yours is not ok, then it is also not ok for you to call one and a half million girls easy. The hypocrisy is sickening. And I'm not afraid to leave you my name. My name is Darmidy Goodine, I'm a PROUD Alberta girl, not at all easy, and a former fan of yours.

9:33 PM

Blogger The Trail said...

Ms. Goodine,

I assure you, my esteem for Albertan women could not be higher. The headline in question was a tongue-in-cheek reference to the 1988 sci-fi comedy 'Earth Girls are Easy,' though it was probably a stretch to expect anyone to catch such an obscurity.

A feeble explanation, and likely an unsatisfactory one. I regret losing you as a reader, but understand your position.

Jordan Ferguson

11:33 PM


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